Monday, February 27, 2012

Guest post: J. Thorn on being an author

J. Thorn crafts stories. His toolbox includes a keyboard and a mouse as well as a microphone and a guitar. J. lives in the shadow of the Cuyahoga River which has not caught fire in over forty years. When not frightening his own children with bedtime stories, Thorn can be found performing with Threefold Law. He loves coffee made with a French press and is a connoisseur of epic fantasy. His writings are available in paperback and for Kindle on Amazon.

At what point do you earn the title of author?  Who bestows it upon you?  What is the difference between a writer and an author?  What does this all mean?

Decades ago and up through the recent past, things were quite simple.  Authors wrote books.  Published authors had an agent that sold the books to a publisher.  Unrepresented writers took their manuscript to a vanity press and paid for a box of their self-published books that appeared under the Christmas tree of the extended family, and ironically, back into a box in the deep recesses of said family’s attic.  Simple.

Now, in 2012, what does it mean to be an author?  An idea for a book does not make one an author.  A blog does not make one an author.  Bloggers can write frequently but some are not really considered writers any more than those that Tweet are writers.  Writers compose many different types of readable content, not all of which becomes published.  Bloggers are generally writers but not always authors, writers can be authors but not necessarily bloggers, and bloggers can be both writers and authors or neither.  Got that?  People tell me that they have a great idea for a book and I am always excited to hear that.  Unfortunately, ideas alone do not make you a writer or an author.  Ideas make you a thinker and thinking is good, but authors make books.

So you have an idea and you write a book, let’s say fiction in this case.  Without getting into the level of detail about the writing process as I did in this post, this means you have written a manuscript, revised it, and edited it.  If you gave it to someone, they could read this story that had a beginning, middle, and end.  Does this mean you are an author?

Right now the industry is lost in the same way the major record labels were ten years ago.  Amazon and its KDP program says anyone that can upload a Word document is an author.  Legacy publishers say that you are not an author unless they stock your books on a shelf in a “real” bookstore, if you can still find one.  Readers do not really know.  Many remain fixated on what the industry tells them is a book while others have redefined terms for both the creator and the product.

One thing that is for certain is that books must still be written.  They cannot materialize out of the air and the latest robot in Japan cannot create one.  If an author writes a story in the forest and nobody reads it, is it a book?  If you want to be CALLED an author, keep listening to what agents and publishers say.  If you want to BE an author, write the best story you can and let the universe sort out the nametags.

273 comments:

1 – 200 of 273   Newer›   Newest»
J. Thorn said...

Thanks for posting this, Scott.

Jack D. Albrecht Jr. said...

Love it! Write it and let the cards fall as they may...

Author Scott Nicholson said...

Thanks for coming by, Jack, and for sharing your ideas, J.

Don Broma said...

Now that Kindle has given self-published authors access to a potential audience of millions, the relevancy of legacy publishers has taken a serious blow. Why ask them to approve of your efforts--and give you less than a tenth of what your writing earns--when you might reach more authors and keep the lion's share of the earnings for yourself by self-publishing? Considering how Kindle has changed the game, the legacy publishers' attempt to define legitimacy starts to look like a last desperate attempt to retain control. And, to make that 'legitimacy' even more suspect, legacy publishers are proving all too eager to snatch up self-published authors if those authors have already proven they can sell books.

J. Thorn said...

So true, Don. Unfortunately the snobbery created by legacy publishers will linger for years like leftover cabbage in the back of the fridge ;)

Author Scott Nicholson said...

Agreed, Don. J, I think they will fade faster than we know...they are already being marginalized.

Scott

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